Things to do at PSU.
June 7, 2008 9:25 PM   Subscribe

So I start my post-bacc in July. I'll be in State College, PA for 15 months or so. Where are the good restaraunts/bars? Specialty grocery stores? What do folks there do for fun (on the offhand chance I manage to find time for it)?

Especially interested to know about the music scene (especially roots music). Not especially interested in the traditional PSU party scene.
posted by The White Hat to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: For roots music, check out Kris Kehr who plays regularly at Zeno's.

I don't know about specialty grocery stores, but there is a Wegman's which is where I go when camping at Black Moshannon State Park.
posted by maurice at 7:32 AM on June 8, 2008

Best answer: There's a pretty nice Asian grocery store (Far Corners?) on North Atherton.

Try Irving's bagels! The best!

The Creamery on campus has the richest ice cream around. There's a little place just outside of town on the south side, a dairy, can't think of the name now--Meyers?.... that makes its own ice cream, not as rich as the Creamery, but pretty good.

If you can get out of town, take Route 26 south and where you turn off to Whipple Dam there's a really good BBQ place called Doane's Bones, and in the summer it may be open every afternoon and evening. Their ribs are excellent. There's another Doane's Bones at 144 and 45.

Wegman's, as recommended above, is your best grocery option. Also ask about a farmer's market and farm stands.

There's a cheese/coffee shop on the little street between College and Beaver.

Boalsburg is a pretty little town with a few interesting shops.

Sorry, I'm no help on entertainment possibilities. My choice would be PSU's great libraries or Schlow, the public library, but I'm sure you'll be seeing plenty of them.
posted by sevenstars at 8:58 AM on June 8, 2008

Response by poster: These are great suggestions! Keep 'em coming!
posted by The White Hat at 9:11 AM on June 8, 2008

Best answer: The entire downtown basically consists of "music scene" in the evenings. Meyer Dairy down South Atherton is pretty good, too — their "brownie dough" ice cream tastes like a Frosty with brownie chunks in it. There's also an awesome soft serve place (Family Chill & Grill, if memory serves) on the way to Altoona. Altoona is not worth visiting, unless your plans involve either Old Navy or Little Caesar's, and you cannot live without one, the other, or both. I have my suspicions that this is not the case.

Far Corners is the best Asian grocer in town, and is located within walking distance (if you're okay with 10-15 minutes of walking) from the house you'll be in. There's also That Oriental Store on the west side of Atherton (same building as the laundromat by the bus depot), Momezon on the western side of Atherton street (a bit north of campus, somewhat past Hoss's), and Dragon Land down south Atherton (in the shopping plaza with Ollie's, a bit before the Meyer Dairy but on the left side of the road instead of the right). Yes, there are four Asian markets in State College. Wegmans, up north Atherton past Wal-Mart and the BP, is not only the best grocery store in the area but the best grocery store chain in the United States, as determined by Consumer Reports and also the Food Network. There is a reason they have been given this title. Their bread is god damn amazing.

Given that you will be living in central Pennsylvania, I suspect that with some searching you should be able to find a significant roots scene nearby, though you may have to leave State College proper. If you can't find anything in the towns nearby, not only do you have the option of checking to see if there's a related student group on campus (odds are probably very yes, given that there's roughly 40,000 students there — it's the only university in America with an officially sanctioned magicians' club), you can also put up flyers trying to organize a thing, which tends to look good on a résumé for whatever reason.

Bell's Greek Pizza on Calder Way, right near the aforementioned cheese shop, is the best pizzeria in town. They're also the only ones who still have dollar slices, which are crazy good (but you need to make sure you ask them to reheat them first, because their pizza is not very awesome when cold), but the real draw for me is their hummus. If you become a fan of their hummus as I have, make sure to pay attention to the Hummus Uncertainty Principle: the only way that you know the hummus won't be served (in terms of presentation) is the way it was served immediately previously. It's also a good idea to ask for a fourth pita, particularly if you're splitting it with someone — a lot of the time you simply won't get charged for the fourth one anyhow.

For other restaurant purposes, is a great place to look for deep discounts on local places like Hi-Way Pizza (their flaky crust pizza with vodka sauce is like if you could cut god into slices) and Mario & Luigi's (best not to think about it, particularly not when they advertise their "mushroom festival"). For $10, or far less if you watch for promo codes, you can buy a coupon that's good for $25 off $35 or more. Very good deal.

And what do people do for fun? Given that it's central Pennsylvania, largely go out drunking. But they also do basically anything else imaginable — there are 40,000 students there, and so virtually every type of interest is represented by people on campus. If you want to find people who are interested in doing something specific, put up flyers in the HUB or the commons buildings and you're bound to meet several people.

If you've got any other questions, particularly about specifics, give me a call.
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:30 AM on June 8, 2008

Oh, if you like barbecue, Beulah's downtown is good, but for sheer unadulterated smoked-meat value, Fat Jack's on north Atherton in the Wal-Mart parking lot is unbeatable: $5 gets you a third-rack of ribs or a sandwich with what seems like half a pound of pulled pork or beef brisket, and a side of fries, onion rings, baked beans, potato salad, or coleslaw (if memory serves). The food is fantastic and the decor is scrungy as hell. The two tend to go together, from what I'm told.

If you like nature preserves, check out Shavers Creek (google it for directions — it's like half an hour from campus by car down 26 South). My girlfriend volunteered there for a while in the raptor rehabilitation center and loved the hell out of it. Then, she is an outdoorsy type who loves animals, so your metaphorical mileage may vary.

Bellefonte is worth visiting once or twice, but I highly recommend going there on a weekday, as much of the town closes on the weekends. It's small and kind of pretty and ungodly boring on the whole, though there are a couple of nice places there (and I'm told that the Hofbrauhaus has the best damn pizza in central Pennsylvania).
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:55 AM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: There's an East European grocery on Atherton, about a half mile from Wegmans on the left in a little strip mall. I believe the name is East European Grocery. Great for fish, sausage, and bakery. Also an Indian grocery on College Ave. in the strip mall behind the Starbucks and next to Five Guys (5 Guys is great for burgers btw) between Beaver and Foster. Also worth trying on the other end of College Ave. is Cozy Thai. A pretty limited menu but they are good at what they do.

The best meat in town can be had from Meats Lab, but not in the summer. It's across from Beaver Stadium and is only open on Fridays during the spring and fall semester. It's where they sell what the students butcher and cure. Very affordable and really tasty. All the meat is free range and done old skool. Try the bacon, maple sausage, and the sandwich steaks. Roasts and steaks are also really great. It is much better than anything available at the local groceries.

Also on campus back on Big Hollow road is Mushroom Research where they experiment in cultivating mushrooms. Exotics can be bought for a couple of dollars a pound. Also only open on Fridays. Not a bad idea to call ahead. They're in the PSU directory.

Wegmans is pretty awesome, but if you'd like a more traditional experience, consider the Wednesday morning flea market and auction in Belleville in Big Valley, over Seven Mountains. That sounds far but it's only a 20 minute drive. It's mostly an Anabaptist affair with many Amish and Mennonites selling their wares, produce, bulk items, and livestock. If you're not interested in a whole animal, they also have several traditional butchers selling great meat. Stock up on preserves, garden veggies, and yummy old order baked goods. On 305 itself, there are two great Anabaptist markets, one obvious and one hidden. For more info on those, drop me a line.

When TheOnlyCoolTim first came to State College we had a mini-meet-up at Herwigs which, for my money, is the best restaurant in town. It's also on College Ave. between Foster and Allen. It's Austrian food made from scratch. Even the meats are all prepared by staff. Homemade sausages and other various smoked pork items are essential. All locally sourced. Mom makes all the bakery. They only take cash or check so don't count on your credit card.

I also like The New York Deli which is on College toward Lemont and in the same strip mall as the Giant grocery. Also home made sausages and a pretty good beer menu.

That's all I can think of off the top of my head. I'm a bit too old to hang in the bars anymore, but when I did Zeno's was my fav. Very cool vibe, often great music. Arts Fest is about to occur, if you like that sort of thing. Lot's of great hiking and biking. I've got little kids now so I don't do as much of that as I did.

The stuff above all seems pretty spot on. I might take issue with some of the bbq opinions preferring Doan's Bones out near Centre Hall. If any of the others post here are up for a meet-up and a howdy do to The White Hat, let me know. I'd love to attend, even host if needed.
posted by Toekneesan at 1:56 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

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